Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Whose foolin' whom? DVRs, product placement, and the death of intrusion

Yes, everyone with a DVR or TiVo it seems skips the ads. Advertisers and the networks that sell to them have been concerned for several years about the unfortunate habit viewers have of only wanting to see what matters to them...and ads, apparently, aren't it.

Alas, one approach has been to stick the product in viewers faces where they can't skip the show! Noone will notice, er, I mean noone will be able to skip it there. And think of the added credibility of the brand when someone as awesome as Michael, um, I mean Steve Carrell uses our product in the context of the The Office! Or one of the true arbiters of American Idolatry sips a Coke after another rousing amateur is made into a star we all surely love. 

Product placement isn't new. But like Fed Bailouts, 3rd string quaterbacks, or hair of the dog,   they may very well represent desperate measures for desperate times. They are an attempt to support intrusion as a viable model for selling ads. As people skip the ads, avertisers rightly question whether they should pay for impressions that do not exist.

Product placement today suffers some of the same challenges to measurement as the traditional interruptive model of the 30-second spot or commerical pod. In the case of product placement,though, the additional challenge is in not seeming so obvious that it seems unnatural--and yet to seem natural requires that the product get pushed to the background.  In any case, just like the unfounded fears of subliminal advertising and the Hidden Persuaders in the 1950s, trying to be too sneaky about product placement gets legislators and other consipracy theorists up in in the FCC's latest effort looking into product placement

At least when radio broadcaster and master hawker Paul Harvey stated... 

"I am fiercely loyal to those willing to put their money where my mouth is." knew exactly what he was doing because he was telling you. 

Neilsen reports the number of product placement events by braodcast and cable in the charts below. Now you know.

(Click to enlarge)

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